Wintery Birding, 12/11/22

I know winter doesn’t technically start for another 10 days, but today certainly had a wintery feel to it. What a difference a day makes – yesterday was crisp and full of light but today was dark, gray, and snowy. Interestingly, it felt just as refreshing to be out both days – there is something I really enjoy about cold weather birding. I tried for the Hammond’s Flycatcher again this morning for nearly 3 hours before heading to the black dirt, where it was quite birdy. I didn’t find anything as exciting as yesterday, but still I had some really good winter birds, including: Horned Larks, Snow Buntings, Lapland Longspurs, American Tree Sparrows, a Merlin, and a small flock of Snow Geese. Here is a collection of what I would consider typical winter birding images from the area.

~A couple of Canada Geese in the snow at the Bashakill, 12/11/22.~
~Red-tailed Hawk perched on some farm equipment in the black dirt, 12/11/22.~
~Snow Geese in the black dirt, 12/11/22.~
~Merlin in the black dirt, 12/11/22.~
~Horned Lark in the black dirt, 12/11/22.~
~There are actually 2 Lapland Longspurs in this photo -its head is out of focus and barely visible in the foreground. Black dirt 12/11/22.~

Good Birding in Sullivan County, 12/04/22

My original plan this morning was foiled. I was going to hike at Black Rock Forest with winter finches on my mind, but when I arrived, the forest was closed due to hunting season. It’s closed until 12/11/22, so maybe I’ll try again in a couple of weeks.

I eventually decided to head up to Sullivan County. I wanted to add Snow Goose to my Sullivan County list; one had been reported at Phillipsport Marsh. Unfortunately, the bird was not present when I arrived. So I continued to Rondout Reservoir to try for the sea ducks John Haas wrote about on his blog yesterday.

~Bald Eagle in flight over Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22.~

When I arrived, it was unclear to me where these birds might be – Rondout Reservoir is huge! I went to the Sullivan County portion of the reservoir (at the northernmost area). As I walked up, it was a Bald Eagle bonanza. There were two adults sitting on the shore with a fish between them, as well as two young birds flying in the vicinity. It made for some good photo ops – I haven’t had a good opportunity with any eagles in a while, so I enjoyed it as well as the results.

~Coming in hot! Bald Eagle at Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22.~

Just as the eagles settled down, Renee Davis pulled up and gave me the lowdown on the sea ducks. Not only that, she drove back to the spot and got me on the birds immediately: (1) SURF SCOTER and (2) LONG-TAILED DUCKS. Huge thanks to Renee for all the help. The birds were distant, but the light was perfect so I had excellent looks in my scope. Photos were a different story, as you can see below. The Surf Scoter was my 206th bird in Sullivan County. Hopefully the Snow Goose will stick around and I’ll get another shot at it.

~Long-tailed Ducks and a Surf Scoter at Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22. There are three Common Goldeye in the background. ~
~A young Bald Eagle flies overhead at Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22.~
~Bald Eagle at Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22.~
~And finally finding a nice perch. Bald Eagle at Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22.~

Shorebird Sunday Shots, 08/28/22

This morning I headed to Sullivan County to follow up on some of the shorebird action John Haas and others have had there recently. I was hoping for some good photo ops, or that maybe I might see something special. I also thought that I still needed Greater Yellowlegs for the county, but I checked eBird when I got home and I’d had one in Hurleyville back in May; it was not a memorable siting as you can tell.

My first stop was Morningside Park, where I didn’t have a large variety of shorebirds (Killdeer and Least, Semipalmated, & Spotted Sandpipers), but as always the photo ops were incredible, in spite of the overcast, low light conditions. I enjoyed spending time up-close with the Leasts and the Semisandpipers; while the Spotteds kept their distance and the Killdeer were flyovers.

~Semipalmated Sandpiper at Morningside Park, 08/28/22.~

While I was at Morningside, I spoke with John and he suggested my next stops should be Swan Lake and Lake Jefferson. Swan Lake didn’t have all that many birds present, but there was some decent variety: Least Sandpipers, Killdeer, Lesser Yellowlegs, 1 Pectoral Sandpiper. Lake Jefferson proved to be my most productive stop; I had (7) species of shorebirds there (Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Spotted Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, and Lesser Yellowlegs).

~Least Sandpiper at Morningside Park, 08/28/22.~

Back in Orange County, I stopped at Bullville Pond to check out conditions there. The pond is mostly dried up, but there was a good number of shorebirds still present (KILL, LESA, SPSA, SOSA, LEYE). Also of note, on Friday evening I found (4) American Golden-Plovers in the black dirt. They were a little distant for good photos, but it was nice to see them and to document.

~American Golden-Plover in the black dirt, 08/26/22.~
~Least Sandpiper at Morningside Park, 08/28/22.~
~One more Semisandpiper shot, Morningside Park this morning.
~Two of four American Golden-Plovers in the black dirt on Friday evening.~
~Not a shorebird. Red-winged Blackbird this morning at Morningside Park, 08/28/22.~


Today while I was working I received an alert on the Mearns Bird Club app; John Haas had a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE at Morningside Park. I immediately knew I would run for the bird after work if it stuck around. John reported the bird again in the mid afternoon, so things were looking good.

I tried to not speed too much on my way to Morningside Park, I’d already been delayed because I had to put air in one of my tires. I arrived, put my kayak in the water and headed out. I made the rounds of all the mud/stump islands in the lake, but didn’t have any luck. There was a good number of shorebirds present, I had: Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Killdeer, a Spotted Sandpiper, a couple of Lesser Yellowlegs, and (6) SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS. Normally this would be a banner day, but I was itchy about the phalarope and beginning to think it had moved on.

~Red-necked Phalarope at Morningside Park, 08/15/22.~

On my second go-round, I was happy to see the Red-necked Phalarope come in and land at the island where I was looking. I “parked” my kayak in the muddy shore and watched, photographed, and just enjoyed this incredible little bird. The bird was beautiful and extremely confiding, making its way closer and closer to me and never flushing. It was a very special birding experience, one that I won’t forget any time soon. What a bird.

~Beautiful bird. RNPH at Morningside Park, 08/15/22.~

John called as I was making my way back to shore. I told him how it went – he stopped me in my tracks when I mentioned the dowitchers. They hadn’t been there earlier, so John jumped in his car and joined me at the park to get them just before darkness fell. Huge thanks and congrats to John for finding and reporting a great bird. Check out his shore birding accounts from the day here.

~I had these as Short-billed Dowitchers in the field; I checked John Haas’ blog before posting and he had them as SBDO too. Morningside Park, 08/15/22.~
~Red-necked Phalarope, Morningside Park 08/15/22.~

Orange County NEOTROPIC CORMORANT, 05/30/22

I spent my birding time over the past couple of days trying to catch up with the NEOTROPIC CORMORANT that Bruce Nott and Ken McDermott found at the Newburgh Rowing Club on Saturday evening. I was in Newburgh twice yesterday and had some rotten luck, missing the bird by less than 10 minutes. Today was a different story and I finally connected with the bird thanks to two birders up from the city (Heydi & Ryan maybe? Sorry I’m so bad with names). I connected with them when they first arrived, and not to long after that, they contacted me to let me know they had found the bird by the Newburgh Ferry. The bird was cooperative until birding bud Rob Stone arrived and got it, but shortly after that it was flushed by a pair of jet skis.

~Wow! NEOTROPIC CORMORANT on the Hudson River near the Newburgh Ferry 05/30/22. From what I understand, this is only the 6th NECO record in NYS .~

The NECO wasn’t the only excitement I had this week. I was focusing on breaking 200 birds in Sullivan this week. On Thursday I joined Karen Miller out at Haven Road and we heard a solitary Eastern Whip-poor-will (#199) calling. On Saturday I went to the Neversink Reservoir and got Bobolink (200) and Savannah Sparrow (201). Afterwards, I birded Hurleyville Swamp and was able to clearly hear an Alder Flycatcher (202) calling away. I was going to head home at that point, having cleaned up pretty good, but John Haas contacted me to let me know he had a Mourning Warbler calling near Cooley Bog. I ran for that bird, and although I didn’t ever lay eyes on it, I heard it well. The Mourning Warbler bumped my Sullivan County total to 203 and it was also a life bird for me (4 in a week! Craziness!).

~A wet and bedraggled looking Bobolink was my 200th bird in Sullivan County. Neversink Reservoir, 05/28/22.~

Yard Birds 2022: (49) For all the good luck I had this week, it didn’t come home with me; I didn’t add any new birds to my yard list.

~Bald Eagle at the Newburgh Rowing Club, 05/29/22.~
~Now this was crazy. When I arrived at the Newburgh Rowing Club this morning, Matt Klein was there. He immediately got me on this white-tailed deer swimming across the river! The deer must have realized it was longer than it thought, and just under halfway across it turned back and made it back to Orange County unscathed.
~Cuteness. Killdeer and chick at Hurleyville Swamp 05/28/22.~
~Yellow Warbler at Hurleyville Swamp, 05/28/22.~
~Osprey on the Hudson River, 05/29/22.~

Sunday Shots, 05/01/22

I can hardly believe it’s May already. Maybe it’s because it’s been unseasonably chilly recently, I don’t know. Anyways, the birds aren’t paying any mind, and it’s that time of year when they are plentiful and it just depends on where you go and what you try for. The highlight of my weekend was certainly the Caspian Tern I found yesterday at Cornwall Bay, but the rest of the weekend was good too, with plenty of new birds to be seen and to add to my year list.

~Palm Warbler at Hurleyville Swamp this morning, 05/01/22.~

I had some local (Orange County) targets yesterday, but this morning my goal was to see some shorebirds. In particular I wanted to see if I could get lucky with the Greater Yellowlegs reported at Hurleyville Swamp; it would be one species closer to my objective of breaking 200 birds in Sullivan County this year. It was my first visit ever to the swamp, and I have to say it’s a great spot. It’s a rails to trails so the walk is easy and flat, and the spot was jamming pretty good with birds. I added the Greater Yellowlegs to my list easily, as there were at least 4 present. Other shorebirds included Killdeer, Lesser Yellowlegs, and Solitary Sandpipers. I did not relocate the Least Sandpipers which had been reported there recently.

~Greater Yellowlegs at Hurleyville Swamp, 05/01/22.~

Afterwards, I came back to OC to see if I could track down any local shorebirds. The Camel Farm was a total bust, but Beaver Pond now has some nice looking shorebird conditions and there were several Solitary Sandpipers and 2 Lesser Yellowlegs present. I went to Wickham Lake to see if there were any shorebirds in all the puddles there, but I was surprised to see the puddles had all dried up this week. I was also surprised to find a distant White-winged Scoter out on the lake.

~Red-winged Blackbird at the Liberty Loop, 04/29/22.~

Yard Birds 2022: (39) – I didn’t add any new birds since my last post.

~Ruby-crowned Kinglet at Hurleyville Swamp, 05/01/22.~
~Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at Winding Waters Trail, 04/29/22.~
~A young Snapping Turtle at Winding Waters Trail, 04/29/22.~
~I had several encounters with Hermit Thrushes Saturday morning at Black Rock Forest, but unfortunately the light was never good for photos. HETH at BRF 04/30/22.~

The Last Few Days…

I’ve been on a little bit of a roll, getting some pretty good birds the last few days. Thursday evening after work I went to Wickham Lake, where I found four distant Red-necked Grebes. I put the word out and a friend responded by saying they had an Eastern Screech-Owl in their yard and I should come over. I don’t mind if I do! It was a beautiful bird and I got some decent photos in spite of the low light conditions. It’s been a while since I’ve had either of those birds, so that was quite a night.

~Eastern Screech-Owl in Orange County, 03/24/22.~

On Friday I went into the office for work and decided to stop by the Newburgh Waterfront on my way home. I had a hunch about Bonaparte’s Gull – the timing is just about right – and I wasn’t disappointed. On a night where I had mostly Ring-billed and Herring Gulls and just a couple of Great Black-backed Gulls, the BOGU was a welcome find. The bird spent most of the time feeding on the water; I was enjoying the elegant manner in which it picked things off the surface of the water.

~Bonaparte’s Gull in flight at the Newburgh Waterfront, 03/25/22.~

This morning I headed to Cooley Bog in Sullivan County, to try for the Red Crossbills located there by John Haas last week. While I didn’t enjoy the great looks that folks had earlier in the week, I did get to hear one bird singing and I witnessed a couple calling flyovers. There were plenty of good birds around, but unfortunately not being very accommodating. Highlights included loads of Pine Siskins, several Red-breasted Nuthatches, a singing Winter Wren, a Red-shouldered Hawk, and a couple of Brown Creepers.

~On my way to the Beechwoods, I passed this Osprey in the snow at Swan Lake. It’s my first Osprey of the year. ~
~Red-necked Grebes at Wickham Lake, 03/24/22.~
~One more shot of the Bonaparte’s Gull, Newburgh Waterfront 03/25/22.~

From there I went to the area known as the Beechwoods Area. It’s located in the area between Jeffersonville and Hortonville New York, and it’s a good spot for some car birding, which was just what I was looking for since it was snowing and raining on and off. In his book A Birding Guide to Sullivan County NY, John Haas provides directions for a nice birding loop you can drive. My target bird was Eastern Meadowlark, which I found almost as soon as I arrived, on Reum Road. Otherwise it was an enjoyable drive with plenty of the usuals.

I added 3 Sullivan County life birds (Red Crossbill, Brown Creeper, and Eastern Meadowlark) for the day, moving me a little bit closer to my goal of breaking 200 birds in SC this year. My total is now at 197.

Yard Birds 2022: Holding steady at 33 – I didn’t add any new birds this week.

Sunday Shots, 02/20/22

One of my goals for 2022 is to break 200 species in Sullivan County (I’m currently at 194). I’ve come up with a short list of possible species to try and catch up with, and Northern Shrike is on it. So, on Saturday morning I headed to the Bashakill to try for the shrike which was there earlier this week. I dipped on my target bird, but it didn’t prevent me from having a nice morning birding the Deli Fields. I ran into and caught up with John Haas (Bashakill Birder). John mentioned that it was a slow morning there, but I had 23 species, which didn’t seem too bad to me. My best bird was a Hermit Thrush that popped up briefly before disappearing into the underbrush.

~Northern Shrike at Wickham Woodlands Park, 02/20/22.~

I was back in Orange County for the afternoon and evening, spending most of my time at the Newburgh Riverfront. I enjoyed birding the river and there was enough going on to keep me entertained. The highlight was (3) first winter Iceland Gulls, which I can’t get enough of, but I won’t torture you with yet another pic.

~Common Merganser at the Newburgh Waterfront, 02/19/22.~

On Sunday morning I tried for the Northern Shrike at Wickham Woodlands Park. With this shrike, I had better luck. The bird was vocalizing frequently and perched close enough at one point to get a decent shot. I was pretty excited, it was fun to actually spend some time with a shrike rather than just a few moments.

~Two Canvasbacks relaxing in the Hudson River at Piermont Pier, 02/20/22.~

Afterwards, I headed to Piermont Pier. Earlier this week a Little Gull was reported there, and while I know the chances of seeing that bird were astronomical, I figured I would go and just enjoy birding the pier. It was good to see some different ducks – Canvasbacks, Ruddy Ducks, Buffleheads, and a single Common Goldeneye. Gulls were scarce and I only recorded the (3) expected species.

Yard Birds 2022: (25) – No new species since my last post.

~This is a bird I don’t get to photograph very often. Pileated Woodpecker at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 02/19/22.~
~The Deli Fields had loads of Eastern Bluebirds on Saturday morning, 02/19/22.~
~Orange County Barred Owl, my first of the year, 02/19/22.~
~One more shot of the Northern Shrike at Wickham Woodlands Park, 02/20/22.~

Saturday Morning in Sullivan County, 11/20/21

Yesterday afternoon both Karen Miller and John Haas gave me the heads up that the LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL that was at Sullivan County Community College last week had returned. John was going to check for the bird today and let me know if it was present, but on an impulse I headed to the college first thing this morning. Fortunately the bird was present and confiding. Plus the early morning light was very nice on this very sharp looking bird. I spent some time and got some photos before moving on to Neversink Reservoir.

~Lesser Black-backed Gull at SCCC, 11/20/21.~

At the reservoir, my pleasant morning of birding continued with a distant Common Loon. Apparently COLOs have been sparse in the county, so both John and Scotty Baldinger joined me to see the bird. Other highlights at the reservoir included a single Horned Lark landing on the rocks briefly before moving on, an Adult Bald Eagle lazily flying over, and what I’m pretty sure was the call of several American Pipits on a flyover.

~LBBG at SCCC, 11/20/21.!~

From there I went to Liberty to look for the Northern Shrike that has been seen up that way; I didn’t have any luck. I need to catch up with a shrike this winter, it’s been a while since I’ve seen one. I stopped briefly at Morningside Park on my way home, where I had 10 Hooded Mergansers, 3 Ring-necked Ducks, and a single Pied-billed Grebe.

~Bald Eagle at Neversink Reservoir, 11/20/21.~

Huge thanks to John and Karen for the heads up about the LBBG, it was my 193rd bird in Sullivan County. And, as a bonus, I wasn’t aware of it but I’d never had a Horned Lark in the county, so that was 194!

~Common Merganser in Liberty, NY 11/20/21.~

Sullivan County LAPLAND LONGSPUR, 10/30/21

Those of you that know me or have read the blog for a while probably know that LAPLAND LONGSPUR is one of my favorite birds. So, I was pretty stoked this afternoon when John Haas called me to tell me he’d had a very cooperative LALO at the Neversink Reservoir. It was a little late in the afternoon, but I decided to run for the bird. On my John called me; he was going to meet me out there to help locate the bird. When I arrived, John was already there and on the bird. Running for a bird doesn’t get any easier than that! And the bird was a beauty, in beautiful plumage and was very confiding as John had indicated. The icing on the cake was a single Snow Bunting on the rocks; it was another cooperative bird. The Lapland Longspur was my 192nd bird in Sullivan County. As always, huge thanks to John for all the help.

~Awesome bird! LAPLAND LONGSPUR at Neversink Reservoir, 10/30/21.~
~What a cutie; Snow Bunting in the rocks at Neversink Reservoir, 10/30/21.~
~LALO at Neversink Reservoir 10/30/21.~
~SNBU at Neversink Reservoir, 10/30/21.~
~One more look at the Lapland Longspur at Neversink Reservoir 10/30/21.~
~And finally, one more of the bunting. SNBU at Neversink Reservoir 10/30/21.~